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It’s Netflix that’s throttling your video, not AT&T or Verizon

Published Mar 25th, 2016 6:50AM EDT
Netflix Throttling Video AT&T Verizon

It turns out that neither AT&T nor Verizon are throttling Netflix videos, as T-Mobile CEO John Legere suggested last week. If you’re an AT&T or Verizon subscriber, you will indeed get worse Netflix streaming than others, but that’s because Netflix applies the throttling, not the carriers.

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Netflix told The Wall Street Journal that it had been lowering the quality of videos for customers watching on a cellular network from either AT&T or Verizon to “protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps” that would discourage future viewing.

Netflix has been limiting video speeds for more than five years, not just in the U.S., but in other markets as well. The company said it limits streams at 600kbps on cellular networks, a speed that’s much lower than what’s currently possible. This is the first time Netflix talked about the practice publicly.

Netflix says that watching two hours of HD video over a cellular connection would require 6GB of data or a full month’s allowance on a $80 plan from Verizon.

The streaming site also noted that it doesn’t throttle video on T-Mobile and Sprint, because “historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies.”

Even though it won’t stop throttling your videos anytime soon, the company is working on ““new ways to give members more control in choosing video quality.” Netflix is working on a “data saver” feature for its mobile app that would let customers “stream more video under a smaller data plan, or increase their video quality if they have a higher data plan.”

In other words, if you have enough data, you’ll be able to stream Netflix movies and shows in HD all you want.

Both AT&T and Verizon said they had no knowledge of Netflix’s throttling practices.

“Verizon delivers video content at the resolution provided by the host service, whether that’s Netflix or any other provider,” Verizon told the Journal. AT&T is “outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent.”

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.